Does your 1st Generation Prius (2001-2003) need a new battery? Phil’s is now performing hybrid battery repair for both the 1st and 2nd generation Prius. These replacement batteries are re-manufactured using higher density energy cells from low-mileage 2nd Generation Prius battery packs. How long will a battery pack last in the 2nd Generation Prius (2004-2009)? While I was at the Toyota training center for a hybrid class, the instructor told us the 2nd Gen packs are lasting 225,000-250,000 miles. We have seen a few of the 2004 and 2005 year model Prius batteries failing before 200,000, and we believe we can successfully repair those for around $800. If your 2nd Generation Prius is over 200k miles, a used, tested pack with under 100k miles is a good option.
So what does it cost to install one of these re-manufactured hybrid batteries in your Gen 1 Prius? Well, it is around $2,000 but it is still significantly less than the cost of a replacement Toyota battery and there is a very good chance that it will last for the rest of the useful life of your vehicle.
We are experimenting with a source for rebuilt Honda hybrid battery packs using new cells. The Honda, unlike the Toyota, can be operated even with the bad battery pack, though fuel economy and performance suffer greatly. Initial results on the Honda battery pack rebuilding look encouraging, but we are still working out the details for the purchase of the new cells.
Refurbishing the Honda battery pack: We are currently experimenting with a charger which we think may extend the life of certain, prematurely failing Honda battery packs. If your Honda hybrid, 2000-2008 year model, has set a code for battery overheating or out of balance, please give us a call. The procedure is to charge your battery pack to a full state of charge, and then operate the vehicle to pull the state of charge back down. After a couple of times doing this, we think the life of the battery pack may be extended. Call us to participate in this test, particularly if your car has less than 100,000 miles on it.
I am sometimes asked why am I so enthusiastic about hybrids. Well, remember gas at $4.65? (As of today, July 11th, 2012, it has dropped to $3.70 here in California but I predict it will go back up again soon.) Phil’s has equipped itself with the tools, equipment, and training to do all of your hybrid service and hybrid repair. Phil’s is a Master Qualified Hybrid Service center listed on www.hybridcars.com . Would you like to test drive a hybrid to see how it feels? Come by for a ride in our 2005 Honda Accord hybrid, our 2004 Prius, or our 2002 Prius. The technology is very impressive in all three cars and they will give you a good idea of what a hybrid feels like.
Phil installing a new battery pack in a 2001 Honda Insight with 344,000 miles on the odometer (image below). Do these cars last a long time or what?
Live in the SF Bay area? Check out the Art’s Automotive web site at www.artsautomotive.com/hybrids for a first class import repair facility.
Are you interested in a plug-in hybrid, hybrid repair, or hybrid battery repair? Contact Phil at 951-927-2102 for details on the pros and cons of converting your 2004-2011 Prius to a plug-in. watch this website for more details on the plug-in hybrid.
The Accord Hybrid V6 was a slightly different concept as compared to other hybrids, and it did not sell very well, so Honda discontinued it in 2007. The electric assist was used to give it extra power without extra fuel. It incorporates all the features of most hybrids, including idle stop and regenerative braking, but adds in some other fuel saving features. While going down the road at steady speeds, the computer will shut off the valves on the rear cylinders, effectively making this a three cylinder at highway speeds. In my driving this car gets around 36mpg on the road and in the mid-20s around town.
Some Hybrid history and information
The first hybrid, Honda’s 2000 Insight, is still the fuel economy leader. Though considered ugly by some (don’t say that to an owner or a fan; they love the look!) this two-seater, 1800 pound, aluminum body car can crank out 60 mpg. It was discontinued in 2006 due to low demand but it has proved to be a reliable car, if a bit unpractical for a family. It features the basic configuration of a parallel hybrid. The gasoline engine is very small for good economy, but the electric motor bolted to the back of the gas engine provides extra power for acceleration. The braking and decelerating provide what is called regeneration; that is, the electric motor becomes a generator that will recharge the hybrid battery. The electric motor also provides for high speed spinning of the motor for starting and allows for the function of idle stop, meaning the engine will shut down at a stop sign, saving fuel and emissions.
Toyota’s first and highly successful Prius, 2001 to 2003 body style. Toyota engineers got it right from the start. This car will run on electric power only up to about 25mph if you accelerate very gently. This design seems to have taken hold as the model to follow. It incorporate all of the characteristics described in the Insight above, but is far more sophisticated, with two electric motors that work through a planetary gear set in the transmission instead of being bolted right to the engine. The beauty of the Prius is that it will suffice as a family car, even though the trunk space is a bit limited due to the size of the battery pack. Gas mileage claims vary, but 40-45mpg seems to be a believable number based on reliable testimony. Our Prius hybrid has very high miles, 198,000, and the average mileage for the last 7000 miles registers at around 42mpg. The series-parallel hybrid design allows for maximum fuel savings in around-town driving with minimal hybrid repair or hybrid battery repair.
Note: Our Prius had the ORIGINAL BATTERY until December, 2011 and we replaced it as a precaution, not because it had failed, so some of these will go the distance and the time. If you are interested in buying a used Prius, we can give you good data on the condition of the battery.
Realizing that Toyota had done them better by producing a practical family car in their Prius 4 seater instead of the two-seater Insight, Honda reacted by coming out with the Civic Hybrid in 2003. Its hybrid design concept is very similar to that of the Insight. I considered buying one of these cars new for my wife back in 2004, but opted instead for a used, very low mileage 2000 Accord. I was unimpressed with the power offered by the constant variable automatic transmission used in the Civic hybrid, though it was smooth in its operation. Fuel economy on the Civic hybrid is good, but not as good as the first Honda hybrid, the Insight, and generally a bit lower than the Prius, but not much. Like the Prius, these cars have been very reliable with out the need for much hybrid repair.
The 2nd generation Prius, so familiar to us now, has outsold every other hybrid by a large margin. This model added some luxury and a distinctive body style to the Prius, as the first body style was built around the Toyota Echo. It also added an electric air conditioning compressor so the vehicle could shut off the engine even if the AC was on. Our 2002 Prius has only a belt driven compressor for the AC.
Our 2004 Prius is also a high-mileage vehicle with 130,000 miles. It gets about 45mpg around town and similar on the road at 70mph. If I am not in a hurry, and slow down to about 60mph, I can increase the mileage to close to 50mpg. In a recent trip to visit my granddaughter in Southern Idaho, we averaged 43mpg over 1900 miles, driving between 70-80mph with a pretty stiff headwind both directions.
The Ford Escape hybrid, released in 2004 as a 2005 year model, borrows many of the features of the Toyota Prius. In fact, I’ve been told that Ford paid for the use of over 100 Toyota patents in the design of their hybrid Escape. I know of one automotive trainer who drives an Escape hybrid. He reports an average fuel economy of 30mpg.
Toyota added the Camry to its offerings of hybrid vehicles in May of 2006. It offers somewhat better fuel economy as compared to the standard Camry and more luxury and power as compared to the Prius. This car has been very successful for Toyota and is the number two best selling hybrid in the US.
Like the big SUVs at the end of this page, the Toyota Highlander is in a class of its own. Released in 2006, it strikes me as being the wealthy environmentalist feel-good-while-enjoying-luxury vehicle. With a price tag of well over $40,000, any savings on gasoline is eaten up by the cost of the vehicle. As a four-wheel drive, this vehicle boasts THREE electric motor/generators, with the rear drive being entirely electric. The vehicle uses extremely sophisticated technology and is priced accordingly.
Nissan is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately in the Hybrid game, and if fact the 2007 Nissan hybrid drivetrain is all Toyota, with the exception of the engine, which is a Nissan. This car is very comparable to the Camry hybrid, but with the larger size in the future owners may need to consider hybrid battery repair because of the size and latency of the technology.
General Motors entered the Hybrid field in 2006, with the 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid. (Actually, they had a vehicle before this one, a Chevrolet pickup, but it was only sold to fleets and I have never seen one on the road so I don’t discuss it here.) GM decided on a low cost, low tech strategy. As seen in the photo, or rather the drawing above, the Saturn Vue uses what is called a BAS system, or Belt-Starter-Alternator system. It is basically a heavy duty brushless electric motor/generator that is attached to the motor in the same way an alternator would be. Unlike the other hybrids, this one uses only 36 volts instead of 144 volts and up on all other imported vehicles and the Ford Escape. Also unlike the others, the Saturn Vue (and later Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid) is built on the same assembly line as the standard Vue. GM likes to call this a “mild hybrid” due to its limited differences from a standard, non-hybrid vehicle. While the fuel savings are modest, the difference in price from a standard vehicle is also modest. I don’t know anyone who owns one of these vehicles so I can’t give any accurate estimates about the fuel economy.
This is the 2008 Chev Malibu that uses the BAS mentioned above. I have heard reports of over 30mpg on the non-Hybrid Malibu, so it is likely that the Hybrid model will be able to improve on that number. Once again, the benefit is available at a very reasonable additional cost, and from a service standpoint for Phil’s Auto Clinic, there is very little additional tooling needed which in the end means less hybrid repair and or hybrid battery repair to be exact.
These two monsters are in a different ball game all together as compared to the GM Mild Hybrid offerings. The GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade are what we call “Strong Hybrids”, using extremely sophisticated technology. The benefit is some very significant fuel savings as compared to non-hybrid full-size SUV’s. For me the question is whether or not the public is willing to pay a huge price for the expensive hybrid option and when it comes time for the hybrid battery repair on these larger vehicles the hybrid repair is also not as affordable because of the size.
For any further information our general auto repair services, hybrid repair, hybrid battery repair please feel free to contact Phil and come on down to our auto clinic and see what we can do for you.